I’ve always loved to run outside after a refreshing rain, especially in spring when the flowering trees dance in the wind and the vibrant, smiling tulips eagerly salute my presence. Drawing in a deep breath of fresh air, I feel rejuvenated. Spring reminds me that the homeschool year’s finish line is just around the bend. Breathing out a sigh of relief, my energy is renewed, and I feel ready for that final sprint. Just as I begin to sprint, however, I often encounter a large mud puddle. Noticing my muddy shoes, I think about how we, as homeschool parents, can face countless responsibilities that sometimes “muddy” our focus. As the finish line closes in, I know I will need to wash away the mud, reflect, and adjust accordingly before the next race. Likewise, we homeschool parents can mimic this process to prepare for our next year of homeschooling. The first step in preparing for the next school year is to wash away our negative thoughts so the constructive process can begin again. Now is the moment to reflect on this year’s homeschool efforts while memories are fresh. Consider starting this reflection phase with a planned assessment. Depending on your state’s homeschool laws, required assessments may include a nationally standardized test, an evaluation, or a portfolio review. If these are not required, you will find great benefit in reviewing your child’s educational progress and experiences yourself. Before you go on, pause to soak it all in. Think about your child’s efforts, overall progress, and obtained skills. Appreciate his spiritual growth and all the virtuous qualities he has gained. Make plans to celebrate the hard work and progress you and your child have achieved. The next step is to meet with your family and discuss what can be changed to better balance homeschool with everyday life. Combine information gained from your family meeting with the assessment of your child’s educational progress as you consider next year’s curriculum choices, commitments, and schedule adjustments. At this point you may want to research new options and develop new solutions. If you are able, attend a homeschool convention where you can learn from experienced homeschoolers and gain encouragement at workshops. Conventions also provide ample opportunity for you to see, firsthand, many of the curriculum choices available. If you cannot attend a homeschool convention, find a homeschool consultant or a willing seasoned homeschool parent to assist you in developing solutions and locating tools to help your homeschool thrive. Keep in mind that no homeschool is flawless. Life’s circumstances change over time and these countless variables intertwine with the learning that takes place in your home. Thank God for the insight and ability to make changes as necessary, and trust that He is the ultimate author of your child’s future. “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:1, NIV) -Yvonne Strachan
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